Every day of elementary school I knew I was one of the students who teachers were secretly hoping I would be absent on a test day. I was one of the students that brought the very competitive school’s scores down. I knew the teachers liked me and wanted me to do well, but when push come to shove, I was a hindrance. This is not uncommon from other schools, according to npr, low income schools post scores outside their door.They are sending a message,”That we care about you as a person and everything, but what really matters is the score that you post in April.” (Kamenetz, 2015) Testing to this day gives me anxiety.
High stakes testing is the bitter sweet topic of conversation among educators. I teach in a small catholic school, and we test our students three times a year. This is nothing compared to Maryland Public Schools whom test students for 90minutes twice in core subjects areas according to the “Locally, State, and Federally Mandated Test in Maryland.” As a teacher in private school, I am given the data immediately to guide instruction. I find it very valuable as a teacher. The parents however, find it as a set and stone projection of their child. Parents see it as a direct reflection of the teaching occurring in the school. I interviewed a Maryland public school teacher and she shared that she finds the PARCC grueling and time consuming. Mrs. Kass’s fifth graders have tested for almost two weeks and the PARCC is the the center attention at the school. She shared she “felt bad for the children.”
Reading another cohort members blog, got me thinking of the alternative to high stakes testing. I do understand why testing in completed. It shares valuable data about districts and states. We can’t be competitive with other countries if we don’t know where we stand. This data has improved many schools. Because science scores were very low there was a huge push to incorporate more STEM activities in schools. Government and Businesses have supported our national stance to incorporate Science in all schools around the nation. I have seen our school grow personally from the grants available because of the want to incorporate STEM. Two alternatives to high stakes testing according to National Education Association is project based learning assesment and a work sampling system. The project based learning assessment allows students to be given a problem in a subject, solve it, and then defend their written decision making process orally. Students are able to use problems solving skills, presentation skills, and creativity to share an idea. Another alternative to high stakes testing is a sampling system. This system involves teachers holding on to classroom material when students demonstrate certain skill. This is a great representation of students ability to grow throughout the year. These high stakes assessments allow for flexibility. Students also have more control over their success.